Skip to main content
3:00 pm
01/14/13 01/14/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> there is a battle going on to define everything that happens on the internet in terms of traditional things that the law understands. is it like lining of videotape to a french? reloading a webpage over and over like a peaceful sit-in? is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder?
3:01 pm
>> today, we remember the pioneering computer programmer, social justice activist aaron swartz. at the age of 14, he helped develop rss, revolutionizing how people use the internet. by the time is 19, he co owned reddit, now one of the world's most popular sites. he is now dead at the age of 26. on friday, he comes out just weeks before the start of a controversial trial. he was facing up to 35 years in prison for downloading millions of academic articles at mit. his parents the decisions made by prosecutors at mit contributed to his death. today, we will hear aaron swartz in his own words. >> if we lost the ability to communicate with each other over the internet, it would be a change of the bill of rights, freedoms our country has been built on would suddenly be
3:02 pm
deleted. new technology instead of bringing us greater freedom would have snuffed out fundamental rights we had always taken for granted. >> we will play a speech aaron that blaster is the the harvard law school professor lawrence lessig, longtime mentor and friend. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the obama administration is reportedly preparing to unveil a new push for immigration reform in the coming months. according to the new york times, president obama will ask congress to approve measures including a new path to citizenship for some of 11 million undocumented people currently in the united states, as well as a guest worker program for low-wage immigrant workers. a bipartisan group of senators is working on a comprehensive bill that could be introduced as early as march. the administration is backing eventual citizenship after deporting more than 400,000 undocumented people in the 2012
3:03 pm
fiscal year, the largest number in u.s. history. a number of civilians have been killed in an explosion that followed a u.s.-led nato raid in afghanistan. the victims reportedly died as they tried to collect the bodies of taliban fighters who have been killed in a firefight with u.s. troops around a mosque. it is not clear what caused the explosion as the fighters had already been shot dead when the blast occurred. estimates of the civilian death toll stand between seven and 16. the latest violence comes days after president obama announced plans to speed up the transfer of formal military control to afghan forces. appearing with afghan president karzai at the white house friday, obama said a transition to afghan military leadership of combat missions will take place in the spring instead of summer. >> as afghan forces take the lead and as president karzai announces the final phase of the transition, coalition forces will move to a support role this spring. president karzai and i also
3:04 pm
discuss the nature of our security cooperation after 2014. our teams continue to work toward a secure the agreement and will be guided by our respect for afghan sovereignty and by our two long-term tasks, which would be specific and narrow. first, training and assisting afghan forces. second, targeting counter- terrorism missions -- targeted counterterrorism missions against al qaeda and its affiliate's. >> it is unclear how the set a timetable of formal control will bring a major change on the ground as tens of thousands of u.s. troops will remain in afghanistan until the withdrawal deadline of late 2014 and possibly even be on. and as in iraq, a rejection of immunity for u.s. troops could prevent a large u.s. troop presence after the withdrawal. after president karzai said a grand assembly will decide on u.s. immunity by the end of the year.
3:05 pm
>> the decision regarding immunity for american soldiers in afghanistan is a very important issue, which condition of immunity they want from us. the government of afghanistan cannot pick decision on this, is to be referred to the people of afghanistan and a grant -- grand council. and if we give them and to the, how under which conditions? >> according to karzai, an initial u.s. proposal for immunity was rejected and a second round of talks will be held this year in kabul. in a statement, the activist group of voices for creative non-violence criticized u.s. role in afghanistan, saying -- france is in its fourth day of bombing areas of mali in a bid to oust rebels that have held
3:06 pm
the country's north since march. the strikes have killed a reported 11 civilians, including three children fleeing the bombardment of a camp near the central town of konna. france has launched the attacks at the malian government's request, backing troops from neighboring west african states your writing of the next few days. france's defense minister says the u.s. has "seconded" its intervention, reportedly providing intelligence as well as transportations and communications support. news of u.s. involvement in the bombing of mali comes as president obama has confirmed its role in a failed french operation inside somalia. in a letter to congress, obama disclosed that u.s. troops provided french -- support to french troops in until effort to recover a french secret agent captured by somali militants. the hostage, dennis allex, was reportedly killed during the failed operation along 17 somali fighters.
3:07 pm
israel has cracked down on the latest non-violent effort by palestinian activists to stop the ongoing expansion of jewish only settlements in the occupied west bank. on sunday, israeli troops raided a tent encampment dubbed bab al- shams. the e1 construction had largely been put on hold. is resumed work there last month in response to the u.n. vote recognizing palestine as a nonmember observer state. the activists behind bab al- shams pitched around 20 tents at the site on friday in a bid to oppose the lead a settlement growth. the palestinian legislator said palestinians are protecting the land they're entitled to for future independent palestinian state. >> it is palestinian land. we are here legally. this is nonviolent resistance. we are encountering the illegal settlements of the israelis by
3:08 pm
building on our own land. >> the inhabitant's remained there until early sunday morning when around 500 israeli forces raided the encampment and detained several people. organizers say at least six people were wounded in the crackdown. in a statement, the palestinian popular struggle coordination committee vowed to engage -- continue in similar actions saying -- in egyptian court has granted a retrial of former egyptian president mubarak in his appeal of a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of unarmed demonstrators during the protests that ended mubarak's nearly 30-year rule. mubarak will be retried along with his top security aide who was convicted on the same charges. at least 20 people have reportedly been killed in the syrian government airstrike in a rebel-held town south of damascus. the britain based syrian observatory for human rights says six children were among the dead.
3:09 pm
the reported strike comes one day after syrian opposition activists claimed 36 people, including 14 children, died in government bombings. on friday, international envoy lakhdar brahimi held a new round of talks with top u.s. and russian on voice in switzerland, with no apparent breakthroughs. >> we stressed again that in our view, there was no military solution to this conflict. we underscored the necessity to reach a political solution based on the geneva communique of june 2012. >> haiti marked a three-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed roughly 300,000 people and let more than 1.5 million homeless in what was already the poorest country in the western hemisphere. in tent camps housing the displaced, haitian residents said international donors have left them behind.
3:10 pm
>> my message to the international donors is the money they gave to help the people in haiti is being put to use for other people's interest to buy luxury cars, pay for hotels, and go to high-priced restaurants paid in u.s. dollars. >> i don't see a future year. there is no tomorrow. last night the children went to bed without anything to eat. >> appearing in haiti to mark the anniversary, former president bill clinton was questioned about u.n. responsibility for the post earthquake cholera epidemic that's killed nearly 8000 people. some 450,000 haitians have also been sickened since the cholera outbreak erupted in october 2010, apparently brought over by u.n. peacekeepers from nepal. >> we had to speed up some of the infrastructure, repair the agriculture. we have to build more houses. >> what about cholera?
3:11 pm
you said you introduced it to haiti? [indiscernible] >> that is a decision someone else has to make. the most important thing is the u.n. oversees the response -- we have the infection and mortality rate cut in half. i think it can be contained, so i am encouraged by that. >> new cases of deadly gang rape have been reported in india amidst ongoing outcry over the death of a rape victim last month. six men have been arrested on charges of a gang raping a woman aboard a bus in northern india. another gang rape and murder has been reported at a train station. the attacks are likely to feel protests that have erupted across india since the 23-year- old woman was gang raped and mutilated on a moving bus in the capital new delhi nearly one month ago. she died in the hospital two weeks later. vice-president joe biden is preparing to unveil the recommendations of this task
3:12 pm
force on gun violence formed in the aftermath of last month's shooting massacre in newtown, connecticut. on friday, biden capped a week of meetings with visitors including both gun control advocates and the gun industry by hosting representatives of companies behind video games that feature heavy violence. >> we know that there is no silver bullet, as when my friend said, no seat belts you can put on to assure you will not face the circumstance again. we have a problem beyond " massacres" like the columbine, aurora, conn. there are 10,000 people a year gun down in our cities, different motives, different reasons, different explanations. but it is a real problem. it is serious. >> vice-president biden and other cabinet members are expected to meet with members of congress to discuss the
3:13 pm
proposals at the white house today. his proposed measures will likely include an assault weapons ban, the pro-and organizations are predicting it will not pass the republican- controlled house. new york governor andrew cuomo has declared a public health emergency response to the flu epidemic that is spreading across the country. his action came days after the city of boston is to the same declaration. the flute is officially deemed an epidemic by the cdc on friday on friday, the national institutes of health claimed a flu vaccine has been 62% effective. >> children have an infection rate almost certainly that is higher than you see with adults. and young children, when they get sick, they're in a high-risk category of having complications, which is why we want to vaccinate children and the cdc recommends that children six months of age or older should be vaccinated. >> scores of activists gathered outside the white house friday
3:14 pm
to mark the 11th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at guantanamo bay. wearing orange jumpsuits and hoods, the demonstrators called on president obama to uphold his now four-year old vow to close the prison. parallel rallies for guantanamo's closure israel the chicago, dallas, detroit, los angeles, miami, and london. 166 men remain locked up at the prison even though 86 of them have been cleared for release. a prominent immigrant rights activist has spoken out after her mother and brother were detained in a raid by federal immigration agents at their phoenix home. erika andiola, who has played a leading role in the undocumented youth movement, urged an end to the rates in a tearful recording. >> we need to do something. we need to stop separating families. this is happening to me, happening to families everywhere.
3:15 pm
[indiscernible] i need everybody to stop pretending like nothing is wrong, stop pretending that we're living normal lives because we're not. >> eric andiola's mother and brother were released on friday following a national outcry by activist groups. a spokesperson for immigration and customs enforcement has denied accusations the family was targeted for her activism. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we spend today's broadcast remembering the life and work of cyber activist, computer programmer, social justice activist and writer aaron swartz. at the age of 14, he code developed the really simple syndication or rss web protocol, the key component of much of the web's entire publishing infrastructure. at the time he was 19 he co- founded a company that would merge with reddit, now one of the world's most popular sites.
3:16 pm
he also helped develop the architecture for the creed of commons licensing system and built the online architecture for the open library. aaron swartz committed suicide on friday. he hanged himself in his brooklyn apartment. he was 26 years old. his death occurred just weeks before he was to go on trial for using computers at mit to download billions of copyrighted academic articles for -- from jstor, a subscription dedicates of scholarly papers. jstor declined to press charges but he did face up to 35 years in prison and millions -- $1 million in fines for allegedly violating the computer fraud and abuse act. when the case for a candlelight, the u.s. attorney for the district of massachusetts carmen ortiz said --
3:17 pm
an estimate, aaron swartz's, criticized federal prosecutors pursuing the case against him. they said -- on sunday, mit president said the university will conduct an internal of rustication into the school's role and aaron swartz's death. aaron swartz was a longtime champion of an open internet. last year he helped organize a grass-roots movement to defeat a house bill called sopa -- the stop online parsec -- and a senate bill called pippa, the protect ip act. during a speech he delivered last man washington, d.c., he explained the challenges he saw the internet facing. >> there's a battle going on, a battle to define everything that happens on the internet in terms
3:18 pm
of traditional things, with a lot understands. is sharing the video like shoplifting from a movie store or like owning a videotape to a friend? is reloading a webpage over and over like a peaceful virtual accident or a pilot smashing shop windows? is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder? later in the broadcast, we will play that full speech that was aaron swartz speaking in may of last year. he took his own life on friday. a funeral will be held in chicago on tuesday. for more we now go to cambridge, speak withtts to to prof. lawrence lessig. he knew aaron for 12 years. he was a friend and mentor. lawrence lessig is a founding board member of creative commons. welcome to "democracy now!"
3:19 pm
professor, tell us about aaron. >> thank you, amy, for having me here to talk about this incredible soul. i think the thing to remember about aaron is from the youngest age, from the age of 12, his work has been published his work was dedicated solely to making the world a better place for the ideas that he had. he started with the idea that maybe we needed to make the internet easier to share information, so that is what led to rss, then with create of commons it was, how to license people to make the freedom to share legally protected? then after that it was with the public library, how we make books available? when that was not enough, he started pushing in the social activist and progress of space, first with working with stephanie taylor, adam green at
3:20 pm
the progressive change campaign committee, then with his own demand progress with david siegel. what he was doing in these areas was advancing ideals. he was an idealist who believed we had to live up to something better, and he was an incredible sold who inspired millions who now weep as we of seen across the internet and outrage and devastation that he would have been driven to the cliff that he stepped over. >> can you explain what the case against aaron was? explain what happened. >> well, i have to be very careful because when aaron was arrested, he came to me and there was a time where i acted as his lawyer. so i know more about the case that i am able to talk about. but here is what was alleged. aaron was stopped as he left
3:21 pm
mit. he had a computer in his possession, which there was take that indicated he had connected the computer to a server at mit and the allegation was he had downloaded a significant portion of jstor. jstor is a nonprofit website that has been since about 1996, has been trying to build an archive of online -- getting online access to articles like the harvard law review or journal articles from geography from the 1900's. it is an extraordinary library of information. the claim was that he had downloaded a significant portion of that. the obvious question that was in everybody's mind was, what was he doing this for? the cambridge police arrested aaron. jstor said they did not want to
3:22 pm
silly or criminally prosecute. but mit was not as clear. the federal government's -- remember, there was the bradley manning and wikileaks issue going on the federal government thought it was really important to make an example. they brought this incredibly ridiculous prosecution that had multiple -- i think it was something like more than a dozen counts climbing a felony violations against aaron, threatening scores of years in prison. but it is not just the theoretical claims about what he might of thought, but the practical burden that for the last two years his wealth was bled dry as he had to negotiate to try to finally settle this matter because the government was not going to stop before he admitted he was a felon, which i think in a world where the architects of the financial
3:23 pm
crisis nine regularly at the white house, it is ridiculous to think aaron swartz was a felon. a >> what was the scene where he was arrested? he was riding his bicycle? >> yes. this is part of the incredibly ridiculous propaganda the government put out. they released these badly taken because it was basically just a security camera images of aaron, and suggested what aaron was doing was hiding his face in trying to evade detection. all he was doing was walking out of mit with his bike helmet attached to his backpack. the image was just of a guy who had previously been an mit using their network, leaving. we ought to keep this in context. for most of its history, mit has been a celebration of open access to information. indeed, the policy most people
3:24 pm
thought of mit allowed anyone on the campus to have access to information on the campus. and i teahouses the founder of the free software movement who celebrated and defended mit many times for their beliefs. people were wondering, what was in my t doing? we have to say, i criticized the m.i.t. she strongly in a blog post called "prosecutor is bully" because of what they did before aaron died. because of their refusal to recognize the craziness of what the federal government was doing and stop it by saying we don't prosecution here and you should stop prosecution. mit should have done that, and they did not read what they did on sunday i think is extraordinarily important rid by appointing the best possible person in the world to look at what mit did a report back about whether it was right or wrong, i think mit has taken an important step to a knowledge -- ack
3:25 pm
owledge the wrong crib >> we're going to take a break. when we come back, we'll read the statement of mit and also the statement of jstor that did not want to aaron swartz prosecuted. the company, the nonprofit that ran this document archive that he was downloading that ultimately is releasing and all to the public anyway. and we will read the comments of his parents we will play the speech that aaron swartz gave last year about freedom to connect. back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
3:26 pm
>> this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
3:27 pm
we are doing today's broadcast about the suicide of aaron swartz, 26-year-old cyberactivists, social justice activist, co-founder of reddit. he developed rss when he was 14 years old. our guest today is harvard law professor lawrence lessig, his mentor, friend for many years, speaking to us from harvard. over the weekend, aaron's family released a statement saying -- mit also released a statement. and i would like to read that here -. this is part of the statement the mit president said regarding
3:28 pm
aaron's death write-in -- i also want to read the statement of jstor, the nonprofit that is the archive of all of the documents that aaron was downloading over the weekend, jstor expressed deep condolences to the family of aaron swartz and wrote --
3:29 pm
and now i want to play a comment of aaron swartz himself about jstor, about these documents. this was a comment made by aaron swartz at the university of illinois in october 2010. he spoke about jstor. >> i'm going to give you one example of something not as big as said in congress, but something in puerto rican do right here at your own school, it just requires you get your shoes a little muddy. by virtue of being students at a
3:30 pm
major u.s. university, i assume that access to a wide variety of scholarly journals. pretty much every major university in the u.s. pays some sort of licensing fees to organizations like jstor to get access to journals the rest of the world cannot view. these licensing fees are substantial, and so substantial people who are stepping in india instead of the u.s. don't have this kind of access. they're locked out from these journals. they're locked out from our entire scientific legacies. a lot of these journal articles go back to the indictment of it every time someone has written down a scientific paper, it is been scanned, digitized, and put in these collections. that is a legacy that has been brought to us by the history people to an interesting work, the history of scientists, a legacy that should belong to us as people, but has been locked out and put online but handful of for-profit corporations who
3:31 pm
then tried to get the maximum profit they can for it. there are good people trying to change this with open access. so all journals one ford, they're encouraging them to public them as open access. downloadable but everyone, available for free copying, perhaps even modification the notice. >> that was aaron swartz speaking at the university of illinois in 2010 about jstor, up before he was arrested. professor lawrence lessig, the significance of what aaron was dedicating his life to before we move on to the speech he gave last year to play in full? >> he was dedicating his life to building a world, a nation at least, but a world that was idealistic as he was. he was impatient with us. he was disappointed with us --
3:32 pm
with all of us, as we moved through this fight. he grew in patients and called on people to do more -- as he grew impatient, he called on people to do more. it is incredibly hard for all of us who were close to him to accept the recognition that maybe if we had done more, maybe if we had done more this would not have seemed so bleak to him read maybe if we had stopped his prosecution. i received an e-mail from jstor four days before aaron died from the president of jstor celebrating the jstor was going to release all of these journal articles to anyone around the world who wanted access -- exactly what aaron was fighting for. i did not have time to send it to aaron. i was traveling. i look forward to seeing him again. i was looked forward to celebrating the said happen. all of us think there are a
3:33 pm
thousand things we could of done. a thousand things. a thousand things we could of done and we have to do. because aaron swartz is now an icon, an ideal. he is what we will be fighting for, all of us, the rest of our lives. >> professor lawrence lessig, november 27, aaron 2007, blogged about this depressed mood saying, surely there have been times when you have been sad, perhaps a loved one has abandon you or a tennis gone horribly awry. your face falls. perhaps you cry. if a worthless. what about aaron's state of
3:34 pm
mind? how he kept up his spirits, especially during this difficult, difficult time? >> he was depressed. he w losing everything. because his government was overreaching in the most ridiculous way to persecute him not just because of this, but because of what he had done before, liberating government documents that were supposed to be in the public domain. of course he was depressed. he was not depressed because he had no loving parents. he had loving parents that did everything they could for him. or because he did not have loving friends. every time you saw aaron, he was surrounded by five or 10 people that loved and worked with enbridge he was depressed because he was increasingly recognizing the ideals and he brought to this fight maybe wasn't enough. when he saw all of his wealth gone and he recognized his parents were going to have to
3:35 pm
mortgage the house so he could afford a lawyer to fight the government that treated him as if he were 9/11 terrorist, as if what he were doing were threatening to infrastructure of the united states, when he saw that and recognized how incredibly difficult that fight was going to be, of course he was depressed. now, i am not a psychiatrist. i don't know whether there was something wrong with him because -- beyond the rational reason he had to be depressed, but i don't have patience for people who want to say, of which, this was just a crazy person, this was just a person with a psychological problem who kill themselves. this was someone who was pushed to the edge by what i think that as kind of a bullying by our government. bullying by our government did just as we hold people responsible when their bowling -- when they're blowing leads to tragedy, i hope the u.s. attorney does what dollars leads
3:36 pm
an investigation. asked summit in japan and to look at what happened here and explain to america, is this what the in the states government did? >> professor, we want to end with the words of aaron himself. we're not one to go to our second break in order to fit in this whole speech. this is a speech that aaron swartz it from the cyberactivists computer programmer took his life on friday, speaking last may about the battle to defeat the stop online parsee act or sopa. >> so for me, is start with a phone call. it was september -- not last year, but the year 2010. i got a phone call from my friend peter. aaron, he said, there is an amazing built yet to take a look at provide said, what is it? it is called the combat and on an infringement and counterfeiting act. peter, i said, i don't care
3:37 pm
about copyright law. what is e big deal? i'm not one awaits my life fighting over a little issue like copyright. health care, financial reform -f those are the issues i work on. not something obscure like copyright laws. i could hear peter brownlee in the background look, i don't have time to argue with you, he said, but it doesn't matter for right now because this is not a bill about copyright. it's not? no, he said. it is a bill about the freedom to connect. now i was listening. peter explained what you probably have long since learned, this bill that the government to buy list of websites that americans were not allowed to visit. on the next day i came up with lots of ways to try to explain this to people. i said it was a great fire wall of america, i said it was an internet black list, i said it was online censorship. but i think it is worth taking a step back, putting aside the rhetoric and thinking for a moment how radical this bill
3:38 pm
really was. sure, there are lots of times the government makes rules about speech. if you slander private figure, if you buy a television ad that last people, if you have a wild party that plays booming music all night. in all these cases, the government can stop you. but this is something radically different. it was not the government went to them and ask them to take down for to gather material that was illegal, it shut down whole websites, essentially stopped americans from communicating entirely with certain groups. there's nothing really like it in u.s. law. if you played loud music all night, the government does not slapped with an order requiring the been used for the next couple of weeks. they do not say no one can make noise inside your house. there's a specific template which they ask you to specifically remedy, and your life goes on. the closest example i could find was a case for the government was at war with an adult bookstore. the place caps on and pornography and the government,
3:39 pm
declaring the porn illegal. out of frustration, they shut down the bookstore. eventually, that was declared a violation of the first amendment. so, in mi6, surely co8ifa would be declared unconstitutional as well. i knew the government had the blind spot around the first amendment, more than even child pornography. they're blind spot was copyright. when it came to copyright it was like the part of the justices brain shut off and they just totally forgot about the first mmm. you got the sense that the down they did not even think the first amendment applied when copyright was at issue, which means if you did want to censor the internet, if you wanted to come up with some way the government could shut down access to particular websites, this bill might be the only way to do it. if it was about pornography, it would probably get overturned by courts just like the adult bookstore case if you claimed
3:40 pm
about copyright, it might make it through. that was terrifying because copyright is everywhere. if you want to shut down wikileaks, it is a bit of a stretch to do it because that too much pornography, but not hard all to claim they are violating copyright. because everything is copyrighted. what i'm giving right now, these words are copyrighted. it is so easy to accidentally copy something. so easily the leading supporter, one hatch, illegally copied a bunch of code into his own senate website. so if even orrin hatch's senate web site was found be violating copyright laws, what is the chance that would not find something that depend on any of us? there is a battle going on right now, a battle to define everything that happens on the internet in terms of traditional things the law understands. is sharing the video like shoplifting from a movie star? or is it like learning a
3:41 pm
videotape to a friend quaestor is reloading of webpage over and over like a peaceful virtual sedan or a pilot smashing shop windows? is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder? this bill would be a huge potentially permanent loss. if we lost the ability to communicate with each other over the internet, it would be a changed bill of rights. the freedoms guaranteed in our constitution was suddenly be deleted. new technology instead of bringing greater freedom would be snuffed out the animal rights we have always taken for granted. i realized that day talking to peter that i could not let that happen. but it was going to happen. the bill was introduced on september 20, 2010, the monday, and in the press release herald in the introduction of this bill, way at the bottom, it was scheduled for a vote on
3:42 pm
september 23. just three days later. and while there had to be a vote, he cannot pass a bill that a vote, the results were already a foregone conclusion. if you look at the introduction of the law, it was not just introduced by one rogue eccentric member of congress, that introduced by the chair of the judiciary committee and co- sponsored by nearly all the other members -- republicans and democrats. yes, there would be a vote, but it would not be much of a surprise because to everyone who is voting had signed an end to the bill before it was even introduced. i cannot stress how unusual this is. this emphatically is not how congress works. i'm not talking how it should work, like on schoolhouse rock, this is not the way congress works. i think we all know congress is a dead zone of deadlock and dysfunction. there are months of debates and hearings and stall tactics. first your suppose to announce you're going to hold hearings on a problem, and then experts
3:43 pm
talking about the issue and proposed a possible solution, bring expert back. then other members have different solutions and the proposed those. he spent time debating in a bunch of trading. finally you spend hours talking one-on-one with the people that try to come up with some sort of compromise to hash out and enlist backroom meetings. when that is done, you take it and go through it line by line in public to see if anyone has any objections or make any changes. then you have the vote. it is a painful eye to his progress. you do not just introduce it on monday and passed unanimously a couple of days later. it just doesn't happen in congress. but this time, it was going to happen. it was not because are no disagreements. they're always disagreements. some senators thought it was too weak and needed to be stronger as it was introduced it only allow the government to shut down websites and they wanted any company in the world have the power to get website shut down.
3:44 pm
other senators sought it was too strong. they all managed to put their personal differences aside to come together and support one building or persuaded that it all live with. a bill that would send to the internet. when i saw this i thought, whoever was behind this is good. the typical way and a good things happen is to find wealthy companies that agree with you. social security did not get past because some brave politicians but they're good conscience cannot let all people die starving in the streets. are you kidding me? social security got past because john rockefeller was sick of having to take money out of its profits to pay for his workers' pensions funds. why do that we confess that the government take money from the workers? the point is not social security is a bad thing. i think it is fantastic. it's just the way you get the government to do fantastic things is to find a big company
3:45 pm
willing to back it. the problem is, big companies are not really huge fans of civil liberties. there's not much money in it. he probably did not hear this part of the store in the press, as hollywood has been selling it, the great big copyright bill has been stopped by those evil people who make millions of dollars but it was not true. i was in the meeting with the internet companies. probably all here today. all their profits depended on copyright infringement, they would have put more money into change in the copyright law. the fact is, the big internet companies would do just fine of this bill passed. they would not be thrilled, but i doubt there would have a noticeable dent in their stock price. so they were against it, but they were against it like the rest of us on grounds primarily of principle. principal does not have a lot of money in the budget to spend on lobbyists.
3:46 pm
so there are practical but look, they said, this bill is one to pass. in fact, it will probably passed unanimously. as much as we tried, this is not a trend we are on a bill to stop. could not support it, but in opposition let's try to make it better. that was the strategy. lot to make the bill better. they had changes that would be less expensive or less obnoxious. but at the end of the day, it was e of the a bill that was one dissenter the internet and there was nothing we could do to stop it. i did what you always do, a little guy facing a terrible future of long odds a little hope of success. i started an online petliion. i call all my friends and we stand up all night setting up a website for this new group demand progress from an online tition opposing this obnoxious bill. i sent it to a few friends. now, i have done a few online petitions before. i worked with some of the
3:47 pm
biggest groups in the world that online petitions, that i have never seen anything like this. starting from literally nothing, we went to 10,000, than 100,000 signers and 300,000 in just a couple weeks. it was not just finding a name. we asked people to call congress. there was a vote coming up in a couple of days and we had to stop it. at the same time tell the press about this incredible online petition that was taking off. we plead with members of congress to withdraw their support. the power of the internet rose up in force against this bill, and then it passed unanimously. to be fair, several members gave nice speeches before casting their vote. they said their office had been overwhelmed with comments about first amendment concerns behind this bill, comments that have been very worried. so worried there were not sure they still supported the bill.
3:48 pm
but even though they did not support it, they were going to vote for it anyway because they needed to keep the process moving. they were sure any problemsbl could be fixed later. so i got to ask you, does this sound like washington, d.c. the question members of congress to vote for things that oppose just to keep the process moving. whoever was behind this was good. and then, suddenly, the process stopped. the democrat from oregon put a hold on the bill. giving a speech in which he called it a nuclear bunker buster bomb and the internet, announced it would not allow it to pass as you may know, a single senator cannot stop a bill by themselves, but they can delay it. by objecting to bill clinton and congress and a bunch of time debating a before getting it passed. and the senator did. he bought as time. a lot of time, as it turned out.
3:49 pm
it held all the way until the end of session of congress. so when the bill came back, they had to start all over rid that figured, why not give it a new name? that is when it began being called pipa and eventually sopa. a year or two of delay. in retrospect, we used that time to lay the groundwork for what came later. but that is not what it felt like at the time. at the time it felt like we're going around telling people these bills were awful, and in return, they told us they thought we were crazy. we were kids wandering around waiting arms wondering how the government was going to censor the internet id does sound a little crazy i was constantly saying what was going on, try to get him involved. i'm sure larry just thought i was -- even i began to doubt myself. it was a rough time. but when the bill came back and started moving again, some of the work restarted during started coming together. the folks we talked to really
3:50 pm
began getting involved. everything started snowballing. it happened so fast. i remember there was one week house having dinner with a friend in the technology industry and he asked what i worked on. i told about this bill. he said, wow, you need to tell people about that. i just ground. -- groaned. a few weeks later i was chatting with this to grow on the subway issue is not with technology at all. she turned in the sears the and said, you know, we have to stop soap. [applause] [laughter] so, progress, right? i think that story illustrates what happened during those couple of weeks. the reason we won is not because i was working on it or in reddit or google or any of a particular person, it was because this enormous mental shift in our industry. everyone was thinking of ways
3:51 pm
that could help. clever, ingenious ways. people made videos, started ads, on billboards, wrote news stories, held meetings. everyone saw it as their responsibility to help. i remember one point i held a meeting with a bunch of start- ups in new york, trying to encourage everyone to get involved for it i felt like i was hosting one of these clinton global initiative meetings. i was like, what are you going to do? what are you going to do? everyone was tried to one of each other. if there is one day the shift crystallized, the day of the hearings on soapa in the house, is no longer a cannot understand how internet works. there something about watching as clueless members of congress debates the bill, insists the could regulate the internet and a bunch of nerds cannot possibly stop them. they really brought it home for people that this is happening. that congress was going to break
3:52 pm
the internet and it did not care. i remember when this moment first hit me. i was at any event, was introduced to a u.s. senator, one of the strongest proponents of the original bill. i asked him why this by been such a progressive, despite giving a speech in favor of civil liberties, what is supporting a bill that was sent to the internet. that typical politician small he had suddenly faded from his face and his eyes started burning fiery red. he started shouting at me. he said, those people on the internet, they think they can get away with anything. they think that it does put anything up there and there's nothing we can to stop them. that put up our nuclear missiles and laugh at us. well, 're going to show them. there's got to the loss on the internet, it is thought to be under control. as far as i know, no has ever put up the u.s. nuclear missiles on the internet. i mean, not something i have heard about.
3:53 pm
but that is sort of the point. he was not having a rational concern, right? it was this irrational fear that things are out of control. here was this united states senator. people on internet were mocking him. they have to be brought under control. things had to be under control. i think that was the attitude of congress. and just seeing the fire in the senator's eyes scared me. those hearings scared a lot of people. there's something about the attitude. this was more of the attitude of a tyrant. so the citizens bought back. the wheels came off the bus pretty quickly after that hearing. first, the republican senators pulled out and then the white house issued a statement opposing the bill, then the democrats left all alone out there announced they're putting the bill on hold so they could
3:54 pm
have a few further discussions before the official vote. and that is when, as hard as it was for me to believe after all of this, we had won. the thing everyone said was impossible, that some of the biggest companies had written off as a pipe dream had happened. we did it. we've won. and then we started running again. you all know what happened next. wikipedia with black, reddit with black, craigslist went black, the phone lines on capitol flat out melted. members of congress started rushing to issue statements retracting your support for the bill that there were from voting just a couple of days ago. it was ridiculous. there's a chart from the time to capture ca a pretty well that says something by january 14, on one side a long list of and supporting the bill. then just a few lonely people opposing. on the other side, january 15,
3:55 pm
and now it is totally reversed. everyone is opposing with just a few lonely names still hanging on in support. this really was unprecedented. don't take my word for it, but as former senator chris dodd, the chief lobbyist now for hollywood. he admitted after he lost that he and mastermind the whole evil plan. he told "the new york times" he had never seen anything like it during his many years in congress. everyone i've spoken to agrees. the people rose up and cost a sea change in washington but not the press, which refused to cover the story, just when suddenly their parent companies happen to be lauding for the bill. not the politicians who are pretty much unanimously in favor of it. and not the companies to have all but given up trying to stop it and decided it was inevitable. it was released out by the people. the people themselves. -- it was really stopped by the
3:56 pm
people, the people themselves for it was so dead that when members of congress propose something that not even touch is the internet, they have to give a long speech beforehand about how it is definitely not liked sopa. so dead that we ask congressional staffers about it, they groan and shake their hands like it is all a bad dream they're trying really hard to forget. so dead that it is kind of hard to believe this story. hard to remember how close it all came to actually passing. hard to remember how this could have gone any other way, but it was not a dream or nightmare, it was all very real. and it will happen again. it will have yet another name, and maybe a different excuse, and probably do its damage and a different way, but make no mistake, the enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. the fire and as politicians eyes has not been put out.
3:57 pm
there are a lot of people, a lot of powerful people who want to clamp down on the internet. and to be honest, there are not a whole lot of a vested interest of protecting us from that. even some of the biggest companies, some of the biggest internet companies to put it frankly would benefit from a world in which they're a little competitors could be censored. we cannot let that happen. i have told us as a personal story, partly because i think it stories like this one are just more interesting on a human scale. the director j.t. walsh says goods stores should be like the poster for transformers. huge evil robots on the left side of the poster, huge big army on the right side of the poster. and in the middle, at the bottom, just a small family trapped in the middle. big stories need humans. mostly, it is a personal story because i did not have time to research any of the other part of it. but that is, of the point.
3:58 pm
we won the fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. everyone to get as their job to save this crucial freedom. they threw themselves into it. they did whenever they could think of to do. they did not stop to ask anyone for permission. you remember how hacker newsreaders on tennis it organized a boycott ongodaddy or other sopa support other? nobody told them they could do that. if he even thought was a bad idea. it did not matter. the senators were right. the internet really is out of control. but if we forget that, if we let hollywood rewrite the story so it was just a big company google to stop the bill, if we let the persuade us, we did not make a difference. if we start seeing into someone else's responsibility to this work and our job to go home and pop popcorn and crop on the couch to watch "transformers," the next time, they might just
3:59 pm
win. let's not let that happen. >> sever social justice activist aaron swartz committed suicide friday at the age of 26. >> we are asking you to go to the phone to support link tv, independent media. how rare it is to have independent television in this country. we urge you to go to the phone right now as we honor the life of aaron swartz aaron swartz, a computer program, social justice activist, rider, who died at the age of 26 on friday. he committed

tv
Democracy Now
LINKTV January 14, 2013 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

News/Business. Independent global news hour featuring news headlines, in depth interviews and investigative reports. (CC) (Stereo)

[curator]kaplan@archive.org[/curator][date]20150316144319[/date]

TOPIC FREQUENCY Aaron Swartz 19, Mit 6, Afghanistan 6, Lawrence Lessig 5, U.n. 4, Haiti 4, Sopa 3, New York 3, India 3, Aaron 3, France 3, Amy Goodman 3, Washington 3, Hollywood 3, Obama 2, Bab Al 2, D.c. 2, Illinois 2, Biden 2, Cambridge 2
Network LINKTV
Duration 01:00:00
Rating PG
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 89 (615 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 544
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
In Collection
LinkTV
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 1/14/2013
Views
112